Restaurant Marketing: Technology and Trends for 2018

For better or worse, one of the most notable restaurant trends from the past year is the increased presence of the mobile phone at the table.

For better or worse, one of the most notable restaurant trends from the past year is the increased presence of the mobile phone at the table. With restaurants like Dirty Bones beginning to move towards technology-assisted dining experiences, 2018 sees more brands capitalising on our ever sociably-unsocial dining habits. Find out how to improve your restaurant marketing collateral with these insights.

Mobile and customer experience will convene at the table

Instagram is likely to remain centre stage in 2018 restaurant trends but will inform business decisions around dishes and experiences based on those customers snap and share. More and more people are using Instagram to help them decide what to eat, when and where, so building an Instagram-able offering is essential to business success.

Earlier this year we discussed a study by Manu Matchbox that revealed 69% of millennials photograph their food before eating it. While millennials are changing how we eat (and consume media), brands are missing opportunities to use digital to ultimately improve the restaurant experience.

Offers will bring a lot to the table

An Eagle Eye study of customer behaviour found that 31% of consumers use their smartphones to make calls or send messages in shops, and 23% do the same in restaurants. But less than 11% use their mobile phones to engage with the restaurant or shop, so there’s a huge missed opportunity to improve customer experience.

Integrating this trend into your restaurant marketing can be as simple as offering discounts, deals or freebies to consumers who tag your business and share images of their meal on social media. Further engagement with your brand can be achieved through loyalty apps that enable users to settle the bill and redeem promotions, such as the Gourmet Burger Kitchen app. You can create a digital loyalty app, or convert an existing offline scheme, with our digital promotions platform.

Forecasting and pre-emptive marketing, AKA the next big thing

According to our recent research 65% of people found predictive offers to be useful in restaurant scenarios. This means that by anticipating customer behaviour based on detailed data and analysis, restaurants have an opportunity to drive footfall.

One option for marketers is to offer highly tailored incentives and rewards to regular customers beyond offering a free dessert or money off a meal for a birthday. By utilising data restaurants can change the way in which they target potential diners and repeat visitors, such as through creation of tailored offers based on dishes customers order frequently. This trend is also likely to impact supermarkets and grocery stores, with marketers reaching out to customers when they know products are likely to run out.

You need to be right place, right time

Beyond pre-emptive offers, our research also showed appetite for real-time restaurant marketing, with 63% of consumers stating that it would be useful to receive offers when already at the table. By utilising beacon technology marketers can target individual diners with highly personalised promotions. It could be offering a free glass of a wine a customer has ordered previously, or up-selling a new dish or drink based on previous dining preferences. Offering an incentive for customers to return as they exit the restaurant helps to provide a seamless, personalised experience that’s likely to increase return footfall.
With ‘near me’ searches also becoming an increasingly popular way for users to browse when out and about (88% on mobile), 2018 is the time to create targeted promotions that capture this traffic. Find out how to capture real time data as part of your restaurant loyalty scheme with the help of digital promotions software.

Restaurant loyalty schemes go digital

In 2018 we expect to see more restaurants embracing digital loyalty programs and forgoing more traditional stamp cards. A 2016 report showed that 25% of diners at least one restaurant app on their smart-phone, signalling a change in the way customers want to consume. Restaurants can increase loyalty and footfall by offering an app that provides personalised offers, allows redemption of rewards and creates an added experience for consumers.

Restaurant technology advances

2018 will also see a continuation of the wider technology advances that are affecting restaurants and consumers. In 2017 we saw the beginnings of augmented reality and the use of data to influence shoppers’ decisions as they explore grocery stores and supermarkets. Eagle Eye offers the technology to provide customers with suggestions and content in real time as they shop. From AI like Alexa and Google Home making restaurant reservations for customers, to contactless payments via mobile and in-app bill settling, we’re looking forward to seeing the innovations to come.
If you would like to find out more about how our products can help you digitally transform your restaurant marketing, get in touch and we’ll help you find the technology that works for you and your diners.